Spring Clean Your Diet
Spring is a great time to reevaluate whether you are keeping those New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier this year! Here are some tips to get back on track:
Get a Healthy Start
If you eat breakfast, make sure it’s a good one. Include ingredients that are protein-rich, whole grain, and low in sugar. People make the mistake of eating ingredients that are perceived as healthy but really aren't, like fat-free (but sugar-filled) flavored yogurt doused with granola, over-sized "wheat" bagels with cream cheese, or sugar-laden cereals like Smart Start or Honey Bunches of Oats.
Upgrade Your Lunch
The right lunch leaves you feeling energized and focused, ready to make the most of the second half of your day. A less-than-stellar lunch, however, can leave you feeling lethargic, foggy and bottomed-out in no time. Avoid high amounts of sugar, white carbs and unnecessary additives and add more of the good stuff like protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Easy-to-grab fast food items and packaged snacks are loaded with refined carbs, added sugar and artificial food dyes, not to mention other questionable ingredients and add-ins that are best avoided.
Real, whole food is almost always more nutritious - and often cheaper. Lean proteins, vegetables and fruits (fresh or frozen), nuts and nut butters, for example, can be prepped and divvied up in zip-top bags or reusable containers for homemade "snack packs" that are perfect to pack for lunch or snack time. Less money, more nutrition!
Improve Dinner Time Habits
Commit to adjust a few key behaviors:
- Think small, buying less at a time. If there’s no need to stock up on a month’s worth of food, don’t. The more options you have, the more likely you are to overeat.
- Take the time to prepare a meal. If you’re pressed for time start with foods that only involve one step like rotisserie chickens or pre-marinated meats, rounded out with fresh (or frozen) vegetables.
- Indulge, but keep it small. Allowing yourself to have what you really want-within reason- can help you feel truly satisfied.
- Slow down. Eating at a reasonable pace will not only help you appreciate your meal a little more, but it gives your brain time to recognize that your stomach is full.
Registered dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is paid to recommend items. For more on these topics, check out Molly’s column every Friday in the Times-Picayune.